Driving through the Copperbelt on the way to Chimfunshi the tarmac ruffles and sinks into two deep furrows made under the weight of the heavy mining trucks. On the other side of the town of Chingola the flat landscape specked with acacia trees changes dramatically with a daunting pit emerging surrounded by dry barren hills – Nchanga Mines; the worlds second largest open pit mine covering nearly 30 km squared.
A couple of hours drive from the mines lies a chimp refuge started by David and Sheila Siddle in the early 1980’s. Their passion was wildlife and their life’s work has been to save a multitude of animals, mostly chimpanzees from everywhere around the world. Shiela, now in a wheelchair, welcomed us with a chorus of barking dogs who wanted a stroke and a cuddle. She sighed and her voice cracked from sadness as she told us about Billy the hippo who they had saved as a baby from poachers, and who had been poisoned three years ago. Billy had been a close companion to her for over 20 years. A pleasure to meet people who live their passion.